Mail discarded after container mistaken for garbage bin

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) notified us of a privacy breach in Saskatchewan after a plastic container holding incoming mail was mistaken for a garbage bin and emptied into the trash. By the time the loss was discovered, the refuse had already been hauled to the Regina dump and the papers could not be recovered.

It is believed that 44 files containing applications to a crop protection program were among the discarded papers. The lost files included signed declarations and other personal information from clients.

AAFC was eventually able to contact 42 of the producers whose applications were thought to have been lost, in order to advise them of the incident. Our investigation turned up no indication that the papers were ever found or misused, but the potential for both remains.

As a result of this incident, mail is now processed on tables in the mailroom and stored for data entry in coloured and clearly marked plastic containers.

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